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5 Historic Dallas Buildings: Then & Now

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Downtown Dallas redevelopment doesn't end with the high-rises. We talked with Preservation Dallas executive director David Preziosi about the plans for five historic gems.

1. 508 Park Ave

5 Historic Dallas Buildings: Then & Now

Property: 508 Park Ave

Then: Designed in the Zig Zag Moderne style with cast stone reliefs representing the Garden of Eden. It was built as the Vitagraph/Warner Brothers Film Exchange in 1929, part of the city’s Film Row, which stocked films and supplies for Elm Street’s Theatre Row. The building included vaults to house films and offices for Warner Brothers. The third floor housed the Brunswick Radio Corp (later Decca Distribution Corp).

Claim to Fame: Pilgrimage for Blues lovers. The site of a field recording session for multiple artists. In June 2004, Eric Clapton recorded his Sessions for Robert Johnson in the then-abandoned building.

Now: Owned by First Presbyterian Church, which has restored the exterior and plans to redevelop the interior for a Museum of Street Culture with permanent exhibitions that link the early film history and music recorded there during the 1930s. A museum will also explore tramp and hobo art of the Great Depression and the work of homeless artists today. The upper floors and roof deck will be used as event space. In October, the 508 Amphitheater was dedicated and the Sculpture Wall was unveiled. 

2. Old Municipal Building

5 Historic Dallas Buildings: Then & Now

Property: 2014 Main St

Then: Dallas’ fourth City Hall (opening Oct. 17, 1914). In 1956, the Municipal Building Annex was completed behind the Municipal Building. The police HQ and city jail were located in the building. 

Claim to Fame: Lee Harvey Oswald was interrogated and jailed here on Nov. 22, 1963, after being apprehended at the Texas Theater. Two days later he was fatally shot by Jack Ruby while being led out by police in the basement garage. 

Now: The City is restoring the exterior, waterproofing the basement level and installing new windows to replicate the original windows. The University of North Texas is planning to open a law school in the building in the near future and is working toward needed funding from the legislature this year. See the remainder of the list in a slideshow here